Live: Ash Barty makes big change before Wimbledon final

All eyes are on Ash Barty and keen observers may have noticed something different compared to last time she was at Wimbledon.

Barty through to Wimbledon Final!


Ash Barty has her eyes on the prize.

All of Australia is cheering for Ash Barty tonight.

The tennis star plays Karolina Pliskova in the Wimbledon final as she aims to become the first Australian woman in 41 years to win the singles title at the All England Club.

If Barty is victorious, she will hold the trophy aloft 50 years after fellow Indigenous tennis icon Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her first Wimbledon title.

Tonight’s final is scheduled to start at 11pm AEST.

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Ash Barty's big change

“Barty’s just immensely popular, isn’t she? I think people find her relatable, the way she talks. And they love watching it. It is the closest thing I can imagine to (Roger) Federer in terms of the way she plays and the way she talks now.

“There’s a real change in the way she talks publicly. It’s infectious.

“It is like listening to a Roger Federer now, in terms of her total understanding of what she wants to be in her post-match interview and how she’s going to incorporate her team and how she’s going to make it sound like she loves this sport and loves being out on the road and can’t believe her luck.

“It’s really infectious and uplifting and takes the weight off her to talk like that.”

Barty has been keen, as most athletes are these days, to deflect attention from the final result and instead focus on the “process”.

Broadcaster Catherine Whitaker told "The Tennis Podcast: This ‘process not outcome’ thing that you hear all the time from athletes – it’s the most outcome-based profession imaginable, and yet you’re supposed to have the mindset of ‘process not outcome’. I find it extraordinary.”

Barty on the cusp of something special

Ash Barty will fulfil a childhood dream when she plays in the Wimbledon final but Karolina Pliskova stands in her way of achieving a more significant one.

Barty is attempting to win her first Wimbledon title on the 50th anniversary of fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s maiden crown.

Pliskova is driven more by proving to her “brutal critics” she was right in sticking to her style of play rather than alter it radically as the former world number one dropped out of the top 10.

Whatever happens, a return to the top 10 beckons for the 29-year-old world number 13 but for the keen angler the catch of the day would be her first Grand Slam title.

To do so she must overcome a world number one who produced her best performance yet of the fortnight in beating 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals.

Barty also has a firm hold on their head-to-head meetings leading Pliskova 5-2 (1-0 to Barty on grass) including their most recent meeting in Stuttgart on clay this year.

The aura of Cawley has been ever-present at the All England club with Barty wearing a specially-designed dress in tribute to the iconic scallop one that she wore in 1971.

“It’s a really special anniversary for Evonne,” said Barty. “I couldn’t be more proud to be in a position to wear an outfit inspired by her.

“Now to kind of give myself a chance to create some history almost in a way that’s a tribute to her is really exciting.

“I couldn’t be more rapt to have that opportunity on Saturday.”

The 25-year-old 2019 French Open champion put her childhood dream of playing in a senior Wimbledon final — she won the junior title in 2011 — into some perspective.

“I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen honestly,” she said. “I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning.

“Probably 2018, 2019 (3rd and 4th round exits respectively) was some of my toughest weeks playing.

“To come away with losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot.

“I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me.”

Barty’s movement around the court has been a feature of her campaign which she admits seemed a remote possibility when she retired from her second round match at the French Open with a left hip injury.

“It was trying to make sure she was fresh enough and her body was good enough to be able to play each match,” said her coach Craig Tyzzer.

“It’s got better and better each time she played. She’s sort of hitting the tournament at the right time.”

AFP

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